This is a game UCLA can lose. It’s not something that Texas A&M can take from them, but it is certainly something UCLA can give to them. If Love gets in foul trouble, if Mbah A Moute doesn’t play, if the 3pt shots aren’t falling and if the Bruins get lazy offensively, the Aggies can be in this game.
More likely, however, Love dominates the matchup with either Jones or Jordan, the A&M guards have all kinds of trouble initiating their offense against Collison and Westbrook and Josh Carter is unable to find any type of open looks from the perimeter.
First guess: UCLA 68
Purdue vs Xavier
A year ago in this round of the tournament, Xavier was busy giving Ohio St all they could handle, and then some, in their upset bid. You can bet Sean Miller will be playing up the comparison this year. Xavier is now the tournament-tested squad, up against the talented but inexperienced challenger.
Physically, Purdue can hang with this team. Xavier probably has a little more bulk on the interior, they probably have guards that are just a bit quicker, and they have more athleticism on the wings. But, Purdue, despite being a young team, has a lot of fight in them. While no one Purdue defender can handle Drew Lavender (who appears to be back from his ankle problems), the combination of Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant, E’Twaun Moore and Marcus Green can slow him. However, as we saw in the first round game, Xavier has the ability to just about totally eliminate one of the opposing team’s best players from the game, by just tapping Stanley Burrell on the shoulder. Burrell dominated Georgia PG Sundiatta Gaines in the 2nd half of Xavier’s first round matchup, and should Grant or Moore start to give the Musketeers problems, you can bet that Burrell will be pointed in their direction.
Meanwhile, the Musketeer frontcourt (Brown, Anderson and Duncan, mainly) should just be too much athletically for the talented but raw Boilermaker frontcourt.
First guess: Xavier 69 Purdue 60
After Duke almost got out-Duked by a run-and-gun Belmont team in the first round, the Devils run into a team who just a year ago would have tried to do the same thing: beat Duke in a 3pt shooting contest. However, with Bob Huggins on guard-duty in
Duke sophomore Gerald Henderson has really come into his own this year, finding a consistent mid-range jumper to go with his explosive athletic ability.
The rest of the Duke entourage should have the ability to get free within their offense for their constant barrage of deep shots. The Devil backcourt is just too fast, too quick and too deep for the Mountaineers to contend with for a full 40 minutes.
First guess: Duke 81
The athletic trainers are going to be in for a workout once this game ends. Anybody who sees any playing time at all (and perhaps a few even who don’t) are going to be in dire need of heating pads, ice packs, bandages and rubdowns. This will be an all-out battle. Every possession will be a turf fight, and in the end, the win will go to the team that is the toughest.
You really can’t argue with the toughness of the
Pitt not only has an advantage in terms of overall experience, but they are more athletic on the perimeter and stronger in the middle. However, this is not a particularly deep team, and if the whistles are coming fast and furious, MSU can take advantage of a Pitt team weakened by foul trouble. Plus, MSU can throw three (or more) big men, and all the fouls at their disposal, at the Panther big men, should it come to that.
There will be some great individual matchups in this game (Fields vs. Neitzel, Young vs. Morgan), but in the end, despite what will surely be a valiant effort, Pitt will have too much athleticism and offensive ability for this MSU squad.
First guess: Pitt 62 Michigan St 56
This is your prototypical matchup of conflicting styles.
Stanford is going to throw a lineup out there featuring two 7-footers, along with length on the perimeter and off of the bench. They are going to dump the ball into their big men, they are going to put the ball up around the rim and they are going to attack the boards.
And, in the end, whoever has the ability to force their style of game onto the other one, will have the advantage. Generally, it is easier to slow the game down than it is to speed it up, so, as long as Mitch Johnson and Anthony Goods can take care of the ball and get the ball fed into the post on a regular basis, Stanford could have an easy time. But if the
First guess: Stanford 69
Notre Dame vs.
Not that Notre Dame doesn’t have offensive weapons of their own. Luke Harangody was the Big East Player of the Year, and he will not go down without a fight. Aaron Baynes has the size to battle him, but Harangody is quicker and more skilled than Baynes, and Baynes can certainly get into foul trouble. The next best option for
But, without significant height mismatches in the guard positions, the Cougars are going to make it difficult for the Irish to get the ball into the post, they are going to be able to knock down their threes throughout, and more than likely, Tony Bennett will outcoach Mike Brey in a two-day turn-around affair.
UNLV looked terrific in their first round blowout of
Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, even Cole Aldrich. The Running Rebs never saw anything like that in round one. Throw in perimeter players every bit the equal (or, let’s be honest, the better) than what the Rebs have and this one really should never be in doubt, right?
Well. Yeah. Probably. How could UNLV keep this close? Adams, Terry, Rougeau hound the Jayhawk guards up and down the court, keep the ball on the perimeter, knock down their shots offensively, and get a good bit of luck, and perhaps their strong perimeter game (both offensively and defensively) could keep them in it.
A more likely scenario? This one gets away from them by halftime.
Okay. First, a little advice. Michael Beasley. Hey. You’re a pretty damn good player. Your team really relies on you a lot. You’re going up against a team with a lot more size and a lot more effective interior players than you did in the last round. Howzabout, perhaps, try not picking up two fouls in the first four minutes like you did in that last game? Huh? Let’s see how that works. Because, if you do pick up a couple fouls early, I’m guessing your team doesn’t make it to halftime with a chance in hell.
Okay. Now that we got that out of the way. It really is the case that this game is going to be on Beasley’s back. He is far more athletic that Brian Butch or Greg Stiemsma, despite giving up a few inches, and has the ability to step outside and handle Butch if he should pull away from the basket. If he can stay in the game, make Butch work defensively (and perhaps get him in foul trouble, rather than the other way around), then perhaps the Wildcats can spring this upset.
A major question mark for the Badgers could be the ankle injury to Trevon Hughes. There is probably not enough depth in the
In the end, the